ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a science and nature museum located on the Burlington, Vermont, waterfront. ECHO’s dedicated team is continually working toward their mission of “inspiring and engaging families in the joy of scientific discovery, wonder of nature, and care of Lake Champlain.”
ECHO currently welcomes more than 170,000 visitors every year into a 34,500-square-foot, award-winning, LEED-certified facility. The museum currently has more than 100 interactive exhibits with 70 species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. ECHO also has a 2,500-square-foot early learning interactive space for children.
While they provide daily STEM programming at the museum, ECHO also understands the need for increased STEM education outreach across the state of Vermont. By offering professional development, high quality curricula, and other educational resources, ECHO is creating relationships with teachers to help them integrate experiential learning opportunities into their classrooms.
ECHO is also very proud of their Open Door Access Program, an initiative to make science learning accessible to everyone in our community. The center partners with more than 70 social service organizations across the state to hand out reduced admission vouchers and free memberships. Nicole Bova, the Interim Director of Development said, “Through this program, we have strong relationships with a variety of organizations providing important services to Vermonters. We are proud to support them and be a consistent resource for their constituents.”
The staff at ECHO takes the role of community science center seriously, and they make it a priority to be welcoming to all. Over the past few years, they have added Sensory-Friendly Sundays for people who have sensory processing differences and Masks On! Sundays for those in our communities who are immunocompromised. By implementing environmental modifications and closing the museum to the general public, ECHO can offer opportunities for people to experience the museum safely and comfortably. Both events are offered once a month to folks in those communities.
One of the organization’s big projects moving forward is the expansion of the large lake tank, home to lake sturgeon, channel catfish, muskie, freshwater drum, and bowfin. The current tank holds 7,000 gallons of water but is damaged and in need of repair. Starting in September 2024, ECHO plans to build a new tank that will hold 22,000 gallons of water, making it the largest freshwater tank in Vermont. “Mascoma’s donation helps make the project possible,” said Nicole.
Nicole emphasized that ECHO is a very special place. “I have worked for ECHO for six years and I am very passionate about the educational work we are doing here and across the state of Vermont. On a personal note, my seven-year-old daughter loves coming to the museum and attending ECHO’s summer camps. I am very lucky to work here.”
The Mascoma Bank team is happy to help support ECHO’s mission and construction of their new lake tank.